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HEHP grant helps Miss. ‘Healthy Eyes for Kids’ program increase awareness about the importance of children’s eye exams

April 15, 2013

ms graphicAccording to an Annie E. Casey Foundation study, Mississippi has the highest national child poverty rate in the United States with 33 percent currently living in poverty. One of the most urgent goals of the Mississippi Vision Foundation is to give children better opportunities for a great education by providing parents with quality eye health education.

An AOA Healthy Eyes Healthy People® grant through the Mississippi Optometric Association (MOA) supports the “Healthy Eyes for Kids” program, a comprehensive education program for parents of 3- and 4-year-old children in central Mississippi aiming to increase eye care awareness and the number of preschoolers who have received a comprehensive eye exam within the past 12 months.

Arthur R. (Reggie) Dampier, Jr., O.D., at right, shares information on the need for children to have an eye exam before starting school with Friends of Children Executive Director Marvin Hogan, Ph.D.

Arthur R. (Reggie) Dampier, Jr., O.D., at right, shares information on the need for children to have an eye exam before starting school with Friends of Children Executive Director Marvin Hogan, Ph.D.

More parents are now aware of the importance of children’s eye exams thanks to the MOA and Mississippi Vision Foundation working with Friends of Children, a Head Start program.

The “Healthy Eyes for Kids” program included parent educational materials, presentations, and participation in the Friends of Children school health fair to increase awareness and knowledge of children’s eye care and the key relationship between vision and learning.

Fact sheets with Mississippi Vision Foundation contacts and information about the InfantSEE® program were provided, along with information developed by the AOA on the difference between eye screenings and eye exams.

To help measure parent knowledge, “Healthy Eyes for Kids” children’s vision health surveys were used before and after attending the presentations.

“After each presentation, there were adults who wanted more information about eye doctors in their community for both themselves and their children,” said MOA Executive Director Linda Ross-Aldy.

While the MOA did not track who actually made an appointment, Ross-Aldy believes the eye health of those in the audiences will be improved as a result of attending the presentation.

In support of the “Healthy Eyes for Kids” program, Arthur R. (Reggie) Dampier, Jr., O.D., met with Head Start Friends of Children Executive Director Marvin Hogan, Ph.D., and program director Bobbie Posey to discuss children’s vision issues.

Parents attend a presentation by Dewey Handy, O.D.,on the importance of preschool eye exams for children as part of the Healthy Eyes for Kids program.

Parents attend a presentation by Dewey Handy, O.D., on the importance of preschool eye exams for children as part of the Healthy Eyes for Kids program.

A Friends of Children employee health fair was held at the Rankin Campus of Hinds Community College with eye care information for more than 800 employees.

Dewey Handy, O.D., addressed parents in December and administered the pre- and post-survey.

The MOA recently used material from the parent survey during its 2013 Legislative Reception where eight posters depicting facts about children’s vision were used to illustrate the issues.

The AOA would like to thank the following members for helping make the “Healthy Eyes for Kids” program a success: Arthur R. (Reggie) Dampier, Jr., O.D., Tonyatta Hairston, O.D., and Dewey Handy, O.D.

Healthy Eyes Healthy People®

The AOA and Optometry Cares® – The AOA Foundation, through a generous grant from Luxottica, offer the Healthy Eyes Healthy People® state association grants. The grants provide funding for collaborative community programs involving optometrists with government agencies and health care advocates to address the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Healthy People objectives through a comprehensive approach to meeting the vision and eye health care needs of America’s infants, children, adolescents, adults and seniors. For more information, visit www.aoa.org/hehp.

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